Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, registration card, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, chat, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay Secondly, mobile services lead to a more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on-the-go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and targets their specific needs In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests’ specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers,- and re-bookings. What are guests really expecting from mobile hospitality? Guests want pre-arrival check-in and avoid reception queues. A study conducted by Ipsos and Aeroguest asked guests what characteristics they would value the most in their hotel experiences. We found out that Wi-fi and breakfast are essentials for every stay and in most cases could be deal-breakers. However, if we look into what mobile hospitably can add to the stay, then the best experience includes being able to check in earlier, check out later and cut these two steps shorter by avoiding queues and crowds in the reception, thus supporting a more convenient and contactless hotel stay. These are also the top two benefits that both business travelers and tech-savvy hotel guests are hoping their hotels will make available. QUESTION: CHOOSE THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MOBILE HOSPITALITY (the size of the picture is proportional to the utility level. Only 11 features are shown, total utility sums to 100%) Guests are willing to pay to select their own room Having a room with a view and being able to select a specific room within the desired room type is also among the most valued features. This capability directly addresses another aspect that this study found guests to be unsatisfied with their hotel experiences. “When I book a room, I want to know what I am getting” This feature breaks the uncertainty factor and provides the choice and transparency needed when evaluating which hotel room to pick. Guests will know if the room meets their needs, where it is located, what view it has from the window, and if the requested extras have been acknowledged. This is another feature that mobile hospitality providers such as AeroGuest support, but not all hotels, web services, and apps give this opportunity to guests,- it is very difficult to build and has to be two-way integrated to multiple PMS across the world. An even more relevant aspect though, is that hotel guests are willing to pay to select their own room. 42% of hotel guests and almost 60% of business travelers would be likely or very likely to pay for choosing a specific room, and these would be willing to pay, on average, an extra 7% of the room price to choose their ideal room. QUESTION: HOW LIKELY WOULD YOU BE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHOOSING A SPECIFIC ROOM BEFORE ARRIVAL? QUESTION: HOW MUCH WOULD YOU BE LIKELY TO PAY FOR CHOOSING YOU OWN ROOM? In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell of some completely new services such as room selection and adding extras before and during the stay and to better capture re-booking.
Hotel Mobile Ordering & Room Service Software Articles
The adoption of mobile technologies has taken the fast lane ever since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has halted the industry. As a response to the challenges of the pandemic, mobile travel solutions have emerged as an appealing option to re-affirm consumer confidence that safety can be maintained when traveling. It seems that the adoption of both effortless and touch-free mobile solutions will have a lasting impact. Even though the need for safety takes precedence during these times of fear, the need for convenience is the main driver and will last beyond the hype of the pandemic. Where is mobile hospitality headed? Mobile-enabled services are no longer an accessory in the hospitality industry to satisfy a niche need for speed or convenience for a narrow group of guests, but rather a necessity that enhances any guest’s travel experience. With or without a mobile strategy, every hotel owner should ask the following questions: What benefits are the growing mobile-centric hotel guests driven by? How should hotels adapt their services and where should they focus their attention to meet consumers’ expectations and needs in the hospitality service? Mobile hospitality is a win-win for both hotels and guests The main reason why hotel owners should consider a mobile strategy is to give the business more operational efficiency and offer guests a more customer-focused experience while saving time and space for higher-value tasks and strategic revenue management. For guests, mobile hospitality rests on two benefits, the increased convenience of effortless travel and touch-free experiences. Mobile-centric services make stays effortless and streamline the whole journey, thus improving the guest experiences First and foremost, an effortless journey will directly impact guests’ experience and satisfaction. Regardless of being a shorter or longer stay, for business or leisure, hotels work as an extension of our home. Likewise, to the same extent that we have the need to make our home lives convenient, functional, and comfortable, as hotel guests we expect just the same level of easiness. Mobile services are not only more streamlined than more traditional services, but they also have the power to connect the whole journey and several experiences seamlessly. How can hotel owners benefit from mobile hospitality? Mobile digital services improve operational efficiency while improving guests’ travel experiences. Firstly, mobile services allow hotels to improve their operational efficiency. Mobile digitalization facilitates the automation of tasks that otherwise have to be performed manually by hotel staff. These can be eliminated by having guests do it themselves in advance (e.g. fill in the information, check-in and out, online payment, choose and allocate rooms, book spa, dinner, or golf reservations, etc). Besides requiring fewer human resources from the hotel that could be spared or employed in other higher-value tasks, the best part of this self-administrated service is that by transferring the tasks to the guests, it further improves their experience and satisfaction. Mobile digitalization gives freedom for guests to find their own convenience. Connect with guests on-the-go and extend the relationship beyond the duration of the stay. Secondly, mobile services lead to more customer-focused service and create a more personalized and on-premise accessible experience. For instance, more than 50% of American leisure travelers would use an app to add extras on the go during their hotel stays. Mobile services also help to maintain long-term relationships and two-way communication anytime during the guest’s journey and better manage loyalty programs. Optimizes the value per guest and target their specific needs. In turn, this widens the opportunity to target guests' specific needs, hence allowing hotels to focus their strategy on the optimization of each guest’s value. Mobile apps have an additional advantage, they work as direct channels to guests by integrating with customer support and feedback systems, as well as with broader online review platforms. Lastly, mobile apps can potentially capture late bookers. Over 70% of same-day hotel reservations are made on smartphones, thus, an optimized mobile experience can be the key to unlocking the value of late bookers. In sum, mobile services not only yield operational efficiencies but also allow to upsell some services such as room selection and adding extras during the stay to better capture late bookers.
AI Conversational Guest Messaging is quickly becoming a “must have” not only for premiere hoteliers, but for all sectors. Implementing Smart Guest Messaging has been documented to increase daily engagement of in-stay guests over 500%, from the historical 5%-10% via e-mail and web to above 50% via SMS, WhatsApp, etc. This leap in hotel guest communications at some hotels will foster in new guest expectations for most, if not all hotels. This conclusion is supported by the findings of HotelTech’s behavioral research published earlier this year. Within the audiences most important to hoteliers, 1) Text messages have a whopping 82% open rate 2) Over 80% of text messages are read within 5 minutes 3) 78% of texters say messaging is the fastest way to reach them. So, after experiencing the conveniences of smart guest messaging in one hotel, they are not likely to accept inconveniences in other hotels such as waiting in long lines, calling the front desk for everything, being put on hold, silencing their concerns, calling to make reservations, ordering room service, or even using a “communal” telephone in a post pandemic world.
Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. Over the past couple of years, however, new trends have significantly reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations and workforce. Hoteliers must find new ways to satisfy guest demand and increase profit margins. The right technology helps you better manage F&B workflow and boost your bottom line. Today’s hotel guests are not only looking for a comfortable place to stay, but memorable dining experiences as well. With consumer’s pent-up demand for restaurant service remaining high, food-and-beverage (F&B) service can be a major contributor to your hotel’s positioning in the market, helping you drive unique guest experiences and differentiating your business from competitors. Yet the past couple of years have reshaped the hotel industry’s F&B operations in ways that have significantly impacted profit margins. According to the 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, food, labor and occupancy costs are expected to remain elevated. And 40 percent of restaurant operators are not yet open to full capacity for on-premises dining, with 7 in 10 reporting that it’s due to staffing shortages. On top of this, there’s increased demand for curbside pick-up, take-out and delivery services. A key way of addressing these challenges lies in choosing technology solutions that optimize management of F&B workflow. The right solutions can mean the difference between becoming more lucrative or experiencing a quick demise. With an advanced hotel application, you can improve key aspects of your F&B workflow as well as your bottom line. Create Efficiencies with Mobile Reservations Making restaurant reservations via phone calls is quickly becoming a thing of the past. A hotel app that offers guests the ability to book a table online offers a number of benefits for the guest and your F&B workflow. First, it improves the guest experience by giving them the freedom to plan in advance and make their bookings while on-the-go. Research from the 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study revealed that 53 percent of your guests expect the ability to make their dining reservations online. On the operations side, a mobile-first reservation system helps you better manage waitlists and provide speedier seating, eliminating the cost and hassle of pagers by letting you text guests when their table is ready. An automated system eliminates reservation mix-ups and accidental double bookings that can occur due to the stress of front-of-house (FOH) staff dealing with constantly ringing phones. And because an app offers the capability to include additional comments, you can plan ahead to personalize service for those guests needing a high chair or celebrating a special event. Streamline In-House Dining with Online Ordering Providing the ability for guests to place F&B orders via your hotel app using their personal mobile devices is another efficient and easy-to-use digital option that benefits workflow. For in-house dining, because you’ll no longer require servers to take each order, you can operate effectively with less staff. In fact, 80 percent of restaurant operators say that labor savings is a top benefit they’ve experienced when implementing online ordering, along with easier order processing and higher average checks. The entire system is expedited because guests can place orders as soon as their ready. This translates to less wait time, faster table turnover, and thus greater revenue. Online ordering increases accuracy since guests are communicating any meal customization and special requests themselves. And it satisfies the expectations of today’s guests, particularly younger travelers, with 43 percent of Millennials and 55 percent of Gen Z-ers preferring to order food and beverages via an app on their smartphone. Improve Food Delivery Services with Online Ordering Mobile ordering also creates efficiencies with room service and food delivery. Since no human is required to take orders, guests are no longer stuck on hold while team members juggle calls during peak hours. And GPS location within an app makes it easy to deliver food or cocktails directly to guests on your property, whether they’re in their room or lounging poolside. The self-service aspect of online ordering simplifies the process and allows for revenue-lifting increases in order volume. On average, restaurant operators see a 43 percent increase in order frequency for takeout and a 29 percent increase for delivery orders. Another benefit is that apps collect F&B analytics from guest orders. Hotel restaurant operators can use this data to track fulfillment and delivery times, monitor inventory and analyze which dishes are most popular. The data also allows you to develop promotions designed to build off-peak demand, target specific guest segments and create discount strategies. Over half of restaurant operators state that these tailored promotions are much more effective than standard promotions. Digital Options Improve Menu Management & Marketing Switching from physical to digital menus gives you the flexibility to include multiple menus within your hotel app, such as separate menus for your in-house restaurant, room service and group events. You can also develop custom menus, reducing time-consuming phone calls with questions about ingredients or gluten-free options, and satisfying the majority of your guests that expect the ability to preview menus and nutritional information online. Menus can be changed and updated instantly without the need for staff to physically swap them out in the restaurant or waste time replacing them inside in-room compendiums. Unavailable options can be removed in real time, helping you avoid guest disappointment. You can also boost revenue and streamline F&B marketing by promoting specific menu options at optimal times, such as offering a special on warm, comfort foods during cold days, suggesting specific food and drink pairings, and highlighting menu options that give you the highest profit margin. Enhance Internal Communication with In-App Text & Chat In hotels, texting or chat for internal communication offers immediacy as well as the ability to track conversations. It speeds up workflow by allowing tasks to be communicated and handled more quickly. And it also expedites the tedious and time-consuming job of employee scheduling. Contacting a large number of staff via email or phone call isn’t practical, especially when it comes to time-sensitive notifications such as shift changes and event updates. Automated text messaging within a hotel app creates an efficient way for hotel restaurant operators to instantly contact staff. It also makes it quick and easy for employees to handle tasks such as searching for substitutes, trading shifts with co-workers or requesting vacation time. Mobile Payment Simplifies BOH Operations The standard payment process is time consuming, requiring manual card entry, verification, reconciliation, chargebacks and disputes. Mobile payment through an integrated app allows restaurants to simplify back-of-house (BOH) operations by directly linking dining POS systems to your hotel’s PMS. This lets you easily assign a specific guest room to an F&B order so that the invoice is applied to the guest’s account with just one click. When guests pay directly through your app, it also diminishes mistakes and drastically reduces reconciliation times. Furthermore, you enhance satisfaction and loyalty because you’re meeting guests’ expectations, with 84 percent of all demographic groups preferring restaurants accept digital, contactless payment options. In Summary An integrated hotel application provides an ideal platform for improving overall hotel F&B performance by incorporating self-service reservation booking, mobile menu options, online ordering and payment solutions along with internal chat and texting features. When you implement the right solution, you create a winning synergism that delivers significant efficiencies to your F&B workflow while improving guest satisfaction and profitability at the same time.
Hotel Tech Report recently sat down with Accor CTO Floor Bleeker for a behind the scenes look at how the hotel giant is out innovating the competition. Accor is arguably the most disruptive large hotel chain in the world having recently unveiled a first of its kind multi-PMS strategy and also launching its own SPAC to invest in a hotel related businesses including technology. Back in March of 2019 Hotel Tech Report published a piece titled This is Why Hotel Brands Shouldn't Build Tech. In that article, we made the case that hotel brands needed to rethink archaic tech strategies to adapt in a world of microservices, open APIs, cloud computing and cyber insecurity. Back in the 90s, hotel companies built their own systems due to constraints of on-premise legacy systems but that playbook is no longer effective for modern hospitality brands. Accor has over 5,200 hotels in over 110 countries operating under more than 40 different brands. So how does a company of that size and scale maintain a rapid pace of innovation? In this interview we cover how Accor leverages a unique organizational structure to drive innovation, its technology investments and everything in between. We’ll break down Accor’s approach to innovation to help guide other hotel chains, regional brands and even independents in how they should be thinking about hotel technology.
As travel opens up, so comes a surge of travel. Pent-up desire for holidays has resulted in what some are calling ‘revenge travel.’ After some hesitation, hoteliers are reporting more demand than ever since the beginning of the pandemic. This has resulted in a challenging scenario. Before COVID-19, the hospitality industry was no stranger to employee retention and acquisition issues. But suddenly, faced with low bookings, many hotels had to make the difficult decision to lay off staff. Fast forward to today, some hotels have been forced to turn away guests because of even greater staff shortages than before. While theories abound about shortages, accompanied by HR strategies to attract new hotel employees, we’re here to remind you to take a deep breath because hotel tech is here to help! Tried and true, existing hotel tech can help your hotel with labor shortages by making operations more efficient and less time-consuming while improving the guest experience. PMS Features and Integrations Alleviate Hotel Labor Shortages According to Revinate, 95% of hoteliers are facing a staff shortage while occupancy is experiencing record highs. One hotel in their report said their shortage has them operating with only 70-75% of their staffing levels. This is the norm, not the outlier, in today’s market. But, as many independent hotels learned during the pandemic, those with a cloud-based property management system (PMS) already have a leg-up on their ability to streamline operations and maximize staff. Because, as the name implies, cloud-based PMS exist in the ‘cloud’ (they run online), operators can manage their hotels from anywhere at any time. Hotel managers no longer need to drop everything and dash back to the hotel to deal with accounting issues or make rate changes. Front-desk duties, such as group management and availability calendars, or back-office tasks, like rate management and financials, are all at your fingertips, wherever you are. Automation. Nothing streamlines operations like automated systems! At the heart of operations, the PMS automatically coordinates reservations, inventory and availability, housekeeping, and reporting, centralizing data to streamline front- and back-office tasks. For example, instead of manually sending routine emails to guests, set up and send templated emails from your PMS automatically based on defined triggers for booking confirmation, pre-arrival, check-in and post-stay communications, waitlists, group bookings, rental agreements, and more. A cloud PMS is easily integrated with your other hotel systems — including payment gateways, OTAs, point-of-sale systems, locking systems, CRMs, and revenue management software, etc. — to automatically share relevant reservation data with those systems so that staff don’t have to manually re-enter information into multiple systems. System integration with your PMS at the core is an important part of automating processes and maximizing efficiency. Self Check-in: Let guests jump the queue with online registration and self check-ins — saving you time and resources in the process. Typically, hotel guest check-ins — with forms to sign and policies to review — take around five minutes per guest and often result in queues, occupying your front desk staff and frustrating guests. By moving this process online, all agreements, waivers, screening, and guest information collection is completed online by your guests in advance of arriving at the hotel, improving the guest experience by not having to wait in a physical queue, while simultaneously saving staff a lot of time! With automated email or SMS communications, payment gateway and mobile key integration, the entire check-in process can be automated. Rate Management: Flexible rate management tools make monitoring and adjusting pricing a cinch, from creating group discounts and package rates to instant overrides. Yield management functionality allows you to automatically adjust prices based on predetermined occupancy rules — talk about a time saver! If you haven’t already added a commission-free online booking engine (OBE) to your property’s website, this is your first order of business. Integrated with the PMS, reservations made by guests using the OBE are automatically updated in the PMS, and live rates and availability are always displayed online. Not only will you save valuable employee time from taking reservations by phone and email but today’s guests expect (and many even prefer) to book online. While OTAs are a great way for guests to find you and book online, why not offer your own online bookings and save on commissions? Speaking of OTAs, you’ll also save time by integrating your OTA channels or channel manager with your PMS to synchronize live inventory, rates and availability across channels, instead of managing each separately. Plus, all reservations coming through your channel partners are automatically updated in your PMS so no matter where guests book, they always have access to up-to-date availability. Integrating your PMS with your online distribution channels is a must for maximizing time and preventing overbooking. Housekeeping reports: While a PMS cannot perform housekeeping duties, it can make housekeeping processes more efficient, which is essential with a lean staff. With a mobile housekeeping report, staff can check their housekeeping schedule using their own mobile phones, to see which rooms are vacated and ready to be cleaned and to mark rooms as clean as they go, adding housekeeping notes and maintenance alarms as required. The front desk is kept in the loop in real time with the same system. Furthermore, checklists for each room keep staff on track to ensure nothing is overlooked — because as you know, when it comes to cleanliness, guest standards are higher than ever before due to the pandemic. Mobile keys: Keyless entry is an elegant accompaniment to online registrations and check-ins. While it may seem small, keyless entry technology removes the headache of keys altogether, whether it’s actual keys or cards. No more sanitizing, organizing, re-setting, or distributing. With keyless entry system integration with your PMS, guests can simply unlock their room door with their mobile device. Along with online check-ins, keyless entry integration allows guests to bypass the front desk altogether! Imagine no guest lineups at the designated check-in time and no key drop-offs at check-out. Did we just hear a sigh of relief? Save time, resources, and money by employing smart room technologies. Allowing guests to adjust room temperature and lighting with their phones puts comfort into the palm of their hands. Better still, IoT offers the ultimate in personalization with room light levels that adjust with the time of day, and keeps the room temperature at exactly the right level — automatically. This kind of efficiency decreases demand on housekeeping and maintenance teams and helps with your sustainability initiatives. Chatbots: Hotel Chatbots are an excellent way to assist your online guests 24/7 without any extra effort from staff. Integrated with your hotel's website and/or within your guest messaging app, an AI or rules-based chatbot can assist guests with booking, requests, FAQs, upsells, and local recommendations. Younger generations are the most comfortable seeking help from chatbots, with many guests preferring to search for answers this way than connecting with a real human — which frees up your human employees for in-person help. Robot room service: A couple of years ago, robot room service was exclusively seen as a novelty service to delight guests. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s obvious to see the practical utility of employing robots by reducing human contact (and thus germs) and by reducing the need for bellhops. Because labor shortage is a trend that existed even before the pandemic hit, perhaps investing in robot room service is no longer pie in the sky. Isn’t technology an amazing thing? Instead of providing a lack of care or impersonal service (a common fear about using technology), today’s hotel tech provides hoteliers with a way to upgrade the guest experience even in the face of decreased staffing. If your property does not have one already, a robust and innovative cloud PMS like WebRezPro can set you on the path toward hospitality excellence and higher revenue, not to mention less stress.
Searching for ways to engage with guests in the post-pandemic world? Looking to streamline your restaurant operations? Or just curious to dig into the data and learn more about your customers’ ordering behavior? QR code menus offer solutions for all of these needs, and they’re rapidly growing in popularity in all types of hospitality businesses, from hotels and restaurants to concert venues and sports arenas. Perhaps you’ve even used a contactless menu as a customer! QR code menus bring a lot of benefits that physical menus don't provide, so you might be wondering how you can implement them in your own business. The restaurant industry (and hospitality in general) has undergone a massive digital transformation in the wake of the pandemic but these are not short lived trends - they are long term shifts in how we do business. This article offers everything you need to know about QR code menus; we’ll explain the upsides and downsides, and walk you through the implementation process. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to launch your own QR code menu strategy. What is a QR Code Menu? Let’s start by defining what exactly is a QR code menu. A QR code menu is a digital menu which you can access by scanning a QR code with your smartphone. When you scan the QR code, your smartphone will open a webpage where your menu is hosted. Many restaurants place QR codes directly on tabletops, on small paper cards, or on plastic placards. A hotel could display a QR code on the front desk or somewhere in every guestroom. Each QR code directs to a unique webpage, so, for example, you could configure one QR code to direct to your lunch menu and another to direct to your dinner menu. Unlike traditional paper menus, digital QR code menus can offer functionality besides simply showing menu items, such as the ability to pay or submit feedback. And these digital menus can deliver a slew of benefits for restaurant owners, managers, staff, and guests that make them a nice upgrade from paper menus. Key Benefits of QR Code Menus Why would a restaurateur forgo paper menus for QR code menus? Let’s explore the most compelling benefits that these tech-enabled menus can provide. Easy to modify: One reason that restaurateurs love working with digital menus is that any menu changes can be completed with just a few clicks and published immediately. Run out of a menu item? You can simply hide it from the digital menu. Need to fix a typo? No need to reprint the menus. Want to adjust pricing based on day of week and meal period? That’s all possible with digital menus. Beautiful and strategic menu design: In addition to seamless changes, QR code menus are designed to be as easy to read as possible, and you can take advantage of promotional tools that let you highlight specials or recommended pairings. Safe and contactless: In light of the pandemic, customer preferences have shifted overwhelmingly toward contactless options, and restaurant menus are no exception. Customers don’t want to touch the same paper menu that other guests have just handled. QR codes let your customers access the menu while only touching their own smartphone. Cost- and time-savings: When your staff don’t need to print and organize paper menus, they will have more time to interact with customers or take care of other side work. In addition, QR code menus enable quicker turnover of tables since More eco-friendly: Are your guests conscious of their impact on the environment? Unlike paper menus which must be thrown away after use or anytime the menu changes, digital menus have no environmental consequences. Faster service: In a quick-service restaurant setting where customers order at a counter, or at a busy bar, QR code menus can enable customers to browse the menu at their own pace without needing to interact with a server first. Eliminating the need to ask for a menu can accelerate the speed of service. Collection of customer data: Some digital menu platforms come with a suite of analytical features. You might be curious to see how much time customers spend on each menu page, or perhaps you want to test a few variations of photos, formatting, or menu descriptions. Digital menus can offer insight into customer behavior in ways paper menus cannot. Considerations for QR Code Menu Decisions It’s important to note that QR code menus are not the perfect solution for every business. Before deciding to switch away from paper menus, you’ll want to think carefully about some possible downsides. First, in some restaurants, paper menus are part of the experience. A Michelin-starred establishment might want to continue using high-quality paper menus while crafting a romantic ambiance with no smartphones in sight. In this case, QR code menus would actually detract from the experience. In addition, if your restaurant guests aren’t very tech-savvy, or if your restaurant doesn’t have a strong cell signal, then QR code menus might cause more problems than they solve. In addition, be mindful that introducing any new feature, like digital menus, will require training and at least a few days to get accustomed to the system, so you probably don’t want to launch your QR code menu during peak periods. How to Implement QR Code Menus If the benefits of QR codes sound appealing to you and you’re excited about using them in your venue, you’re probably wondering where to start. Let’s outline the process to implement QR code menus, starting from the beginning. Decide what functionality you need. QR code menu platforms range from simple to complex. Is your restaurant a no-frills counter-serve joint that only has a few menu options? Maybe a simple QR code menu would be best. Or maybe your restaurant has several different menus for different day parts, and you’re interested in as much analytical muscle as possible. Then you might want to opt for a cutting-edge digital menu system with all the bells and whistles that offers integrations with your other on-site software. Do you need a POS integration, PMS integration or just mobile wallet and credit card processing checkout. Different mobile ordering systems serve different use cases. Regardless of the dining experience at your establishment you should be thinking about digital menus as a strategy and not just an online menu PDF. Understand your budget. How much do you want to spend? The most basic QR code tools are free, or you can pay a monthly subscription or small percentage of sales for more robust functionality. With free QR code menus typically you get what you pay for (or don't). PDF food menus typically mean that you can't save cost on labor, can't monetize through highly profitable digital upsells. In most use cases more premium partners have very strong ROIs - just look at what industry sweethearts like Sweetgreen, Dominos and Starbucks have been able to do by investing in digital. Choose a system. Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for, it’s time to choose a software vendor. If you’re going the low-cost "cheap and dirty" route, you might opt for Eater.Menu or HappyTable. For more sophisticated mobile ordering technology with integrations and checkout/payments via contactless QR code menus, you’ll want to look into Bbot, Crave, and RoomOrders. Each system has a slightly different user experience, so we recommend taking advantage of some free demos to try a system before you buy it. Create your menus. Now for the fun part! You can now start building your digital menus. You’ll want to add menu item descriptions, pricing, and upload photos if the system allows. You might want to create separate menus for different meal periods, drinks, desserts, and more. Some systems let you highlight special offers or seasonal menu items, so you can leverage some marketing tactics. Other systems might simply prompt you to upload a PDF menu. Train your staff. Before putting your QR codes into the wild, you’ll want to train your staff so they are familiar with the system and can help guests use it. For example, if a guest is less tech-savvy, your staff should be able to help them access the menu. In addition, you can train managers on the process for making updates to the menu. Display your QR codes. Customers can only scan your QR codes if they can find them, so you’ll want to show the codes in convenient, obvious spots, like on tabletops or inserts within plastic displays. Modify your menu as needed. After launch, anytime you need to make menu changes, you just need to update the digital version. Eager to bring QR code menus to your hotel, restaurant, or venue? There’s no better time to give customers a safe, contactless, and user-friendly way to access your menu.
In the midst of all the challenges that the hospitality industry has faced over the last year, one segment of the industry is booming: food delivery. As people hunkered down at home, after getting tired of baking sourdough bread, they turned to their smartphones to order food for delivery or carry-out. Perhaps you’ve heard a little about the growth of food delivery and mobile ordering (or maybe you’ve experienced it firsthand), but this article will give you a comprehensive look at this exciting new frontier of hospitality. Ready to be wowed? Let’s jump into 50 astonishing statistics about online ordering and food delivery. Just how big is the food delivery industry? The food delivery industry in the United States has tripled in revenue in the past five years. In 2015, 66 million Americans ordered $8.7 billion of food delivery; in 2020 food delivery revenue surpassed $26 billion and 111 million users. The sky’s the limit! The US food delivery market shows no signs of slowing down. It’s predicted to further grow to $43 billion by 2025. As of March 2020, 38% of American consumers had ordered food via a food delivery app. By March 2021, 47% of Americans had used a food delivery app, illustrating just how significantly the pandemic affected the food delivery industry. Food delivery is here to stay; in 2021, 53% of survey respondents - and 64% of millennial respondents - say that food delivery and takeout are “essential to the way they live.” In a November 2020 study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, 66% of survey respondents said they had ordered takeout or delivery food for dinner within the past week, and 47% of respondents said they had takeout or delivery for lunch within the same time period. Nearly everyone orders food delivery in the US; Gloria Food’s study found that 86% of Americans had ordered food delivery at least once a month. The pandemic was a big player in customers’ dining and ordering habits. 68% of consumers say they’re more likely to order takeout in 2021 than they were pre-pandemic. Although food delivery companies are seeing impressive growth, many customers still prefer to order directly from restaurants. By the end of 2021, revenue for restaurant-to-customer delivery is expected to reach nearly $72 million, while revenue for platform food delivery orders is expected to hit $79 million. Across all demographics and geographic areas studied, US consumers prefer to order food delivery directly from the restaurant, when given a choice. Restaurants were quick to adapt to the changing industry after the pandemic began. 81% of fine dining restaurants, 78% of family dining establishments, and 77% of fast casual restaurants added curbside takeout to their operations after March 2020. Nearly half of restaurateurs said they added food delivery options. What are the biggest food delivery companies? Food delivery and online ordering apps were some of the most popular app downloads in 2020. UberEats and the McDonalds app both saw 82 million global downloads in 2020, and DoorDash saw 44 million downloads. By comparison, Google Maps had 88 million downloads, Tinder had 74 million downloads, and eBay had 51 million downloads in 2020. Food delivery fans weren’t the only ones gobbling things up in 2020. After global food delivery heavyweights Just Eat and Takeaway.com merged in an $8.5 billion deal, the new Just Eat Takeaway conglomerate acquired another big player, Grubhub, for $7.3 billion. Let’s not forget about another big shakeup in the US food delivery market in 2020: UberEats bought Postmates for $2.65 billion in July 2020. Although UberEats takes a 20 to 30 percent cut of each order, the company is still not profitable. Just how unprofitable is UberEats? In Q2 2020, the company lost $232 million. In 2020, DoorDash beat out UberEats for the largest share of the food delivery market in the US. By the end of 2020, DoorDash controlled 45% of the food delivery market, with UberEats at 22%, Grubhub at 18%, and Postmates at 8%. Talk about a swift rise to the top! In 2015, DoorDash’s share of the US food delivery market was just 5%. In 2020 the company snagged a 45% market share and nearly $3 billion in revenue. Food delivery market share varies widely by city. In March 2021, in San Francisco, DoorDash had 71% of the city’s food delivery sales. In Miami, however, UberEats was the biggest player, with a 55% share. And in Los Angeles, Postmates made up 32% of sales, while in most other cities it barely reached 5%. By the end of 2020, UberEats was available in around 1,000 cities. In 2021, the company expects to be active in 6,000 cities globally. UberEats is the world’s largest food delivery platform in terms of number of users. Globally, 66 million people used UberEats in 2020. DoorDash is the most popular food delivery platform in the US, with about 18 million users. Food delivery app users aren’t particularly loyal. Over 40% of UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates users also used DoorDash during Q1 2021. What about online ordering directly from restaurants? Orders placed via their mobile app make up nearly a quarter of all sales at Starbucks locations in the US, according to the coffee company’s Q3 2020 report. Domino’s is another chain experiencing massive success from its mobile app; as of late 2020, mobile orders comprise around 75% of Domino’s sales. Most online orders, about 60%, are made on smartphones. For that reason, it’s important to ensure your restaurant’s website and online ordering system are optimized for small screens! With a surge in orders placed online for both delivery and take-out, quick-service and fast casual restaurants like Burger King and Chipotle have designated specific “lanes” for more efficient order pick-up. Pizza restaurants were pioneers in the online ordering space. Pizza Hut first experimented with online ordering in 1994(!), then launched the segment’s first mobile ordering app in 2009. It didn’t just let customers order their favorite pies; customers could also play in-app games while they waited for their delivery to arrive. 23% of restaurants say their customers are more engaged with their online offerings now compared to pre-pandemic times, showing a shift toward digital ordering channels. In a recent study conducted by Square, two-thirds of customers say they would prefer to order food via a restaurant’s own mobile ordering platform, rather than using a third-party. Out of that group, 61% said their preference for direct ordering was because they wanted to support the restaurant. Online ordering systems can help you test menu changes much more easily than with traditional paper menus. Some digital ordering platforms support A/B tests like changing photos or pricing on some customers’ menus, but not on others, so you can test ideas before officially rolling them out. Who’s ordering, how are they ordering, and what are they ordering? Many food delivery customers are using food delivery apps for the first time. A study of over 100,000 food delivery app reviews mentioned phrases like “first time” 36% more frequently in 2020 than in 2019. Millennials and Gen Z are spending a significant chunk of their paychecks on food delivery or at restaurants. After groceries, dining out is the second-highest monthly spending category for both generations. According to a 2020 National Restaurant Association study, millennials are the food delivery generation. Three-quarters of millennial respondents had ordered takeout or delivery for dinner in the past week. Millennials aren’t the only generation who loves their takeout, though. The National Restaurant Association found that while just 41% of baby boomers had ordered delivery last week during their March 2020 survey, that number grew to 60% when the same group was surveyed in November 2020. Sausage or pepperoni? The average pizza order placed online is 18% larger than pizza-lovers who ordered over the phone. But it’s not just pizza; revenue from online orders in general is around 23% higher than an in-person order. No love for the humble onion! The most popular special request on UberEats in 2020 was “no onion.” Runners up were “extra sauce” and “no tomatoes.” 35% of delivery and takeout customers - and 53% of millennial customers - said they would be more likely to order from a restaurant that offered to-go alcoholic beverages. In a 2019 study of top complaints related to food delivery, 17% of consumers said their food arrived not warm or not fresh, and 16% said their food arrived late. Customers don’t always place their mobile orders with a few taps of a finger. About 14% of people have used voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa, to order food delivery while they’re driving. Google has integrated food delivery options into Google Maps and Google Search listings for restaurants, making it even easier for consumers to find restaurants that offer mobile ordering and delivery. Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween are the most popular holidays for food delivery, according to a 2020 DoorDash report. Speed is the name of the game. The average delivery window for food is around 35 minutes, but 27% of people say they would be willing to pay extra for their food to arrive faster. The volume of off-premises food orders placed online surpassed the volume of phone orders back in 2017. French fries were the most popular menu item in the US on UberEats in March 2020, while cheesecake was the most frequently ordered dessert. What else is happening in the food delivery and mobile ordering space? A May 2020 Wall Street Journal study found that out of all off-premise restaurant sales, 53% were carry-out orders, 38% were drive-thru orders, and only 9% were delivery orders. Loyalty programs can be a major driver in revenue growth at restaurants. 39% of consumers said they would spend more at restaurants that offered some sort of loyalty perks, but only 62% of restaurants studied had loyalty programs. Boo! Although they sound like a room in a haunted house, ghost kitchens are proving to be a very real success story. By the mid-2020, the US was home to over 1500 ghost kitchens, which are commercial kitchens that serve food to customers exclusively via delivery. Ghost kitchens aren’t always standalone locations; sometimes “virtual restaurants” will rent kitchen space from hotels or restaurants during their off-hours. As long as customers continue to use food delivery services, ghost kitchens aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. Euromonitor predicts that ghost kitchens will grow to a trillion-dollar industry by 2030. A 2019 survey found that 21% of food delivery customers suspected a driver of taking some of their food order, and 85% of consumers wished that restaurants would use tamper-evident packaging. More consumers want contactless solutions, as demonstrated in a late 2020 survey that showed consumers’ top payment options were contactless credit cards (43%) and contactless debit cards (39%). Digital ordering allows restaurant customers to pay online and avoid paying in-person entirely. Technology doesn’t only offer extra convenience for consumers; 95% of restaurateurs say technology helps them run their businesses more efficiently. What statistics were most surprising to you? As the food delivery and online ordering trend continues to grow, there are surely more surprises in store.
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Shortly after COVID restrictions were eased, I went on a short golfing trip to Austria. I booked a well-known boutique hotel with a SPA and a fantastic restaurant surrounded by vineyards. I found out later that many other people had the same idea, as the hotel was fully booked for the weekend. Well, good for them, I thought. Anyway, when I arrived, it was raining, and I didn't bring my umbrella with me. So I came into the hotel soaked, hungry, and in desperate need of a shower. Unfortunately, out of the two check-in desks available, only one was operating, and the poor guy was trying hard to check in all the arriving guests as quickly as possible, while doing his best to have a cordial chat with them. Make no mistake: I'm sure it wasn't his fault that we had to wait for five minutes before he finished with the previous guest. When finally my turn came, the receptionist spent a tremendous amount of time staring down at his computer. I tried to ask him a few PMS-related questions, to understand why it was taking so long (of course, he didn't have any idea I knew a thing or two about PMSs), but I started to feel bad for the people waiting behind me, so I stopped any efforts to communicate with him, and I wasn't even told where and until when I could get my breakfast or where the SPA was. And that was the moment I realized, at least on a personal level, that there's something intrinsically wrong with hotel tech today. When Technology Breaks Down Now, I am sure that, if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you have similar horror stories. According to a Qualtrics survey, 57% of poor hotel experiences are down to unfriendly staff. Problem is that, very often, hotel staff is unfriendly because they’re overworked, especially post-COVID, when properties are operating with skeleton staff. Here’s where technology should help, but the Austrian one is the perfect example of a case where it didn’t, and this happens way more than we, in the industry, like to admit. Moreover, tech should not only improve operations, but guest experience as well. Bad news is that, often, it fails in both fields. When your tech stack increases workload and waiting time at the reception (or in any other department, for that matter), you know you’ve got a problem. Technology is fallible, whatever you may think, and choosing the wrong software can heavily penalize your operation. A couple of years ago, a curious news story was published: the Henn-na hotel in Japan, known mainly because a good part of its employees are actual robots, had to "fire" 243 of them for doing "a bad job." One staff member, interviewed by The Mirror, stated: "It's easier now that we're not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots." Well, this is an extreme example, but it’s not uncommon to see hotel staff having to find hacks and workarounds to make things work. If you’ve ever had a job in the hotel business, you know exactly what I am talking about. The Role of the PMS in the Hotel Tech Stack Now, at the core of hotel operations, there’s always the PMS, so this is where the majority of problems start: bad integrations, lack of built-in features, etc. Choosing wisely is crucial, but not always easy, especially because hoteliers may be, paradoxically, unaware of the problems they need to solve. This is not due to the fact that hoteliers are bad entrepreneurs, quite the opposite! Problem is that being a hotelier means having to manage many operational aspects of the job, most of which are very complex and detailed. A General Manager, for instance, will obviously have to prioritize certain tasks, rather than spending hours to go deep and understand a certain technical problem. The thing with PMSs is that they’re the kind of software which is used by several different departments, so everyone has an opinion on it, yet a partial one. Sales & Marketing will likely never have to insert a group reservation, while the front office department won’t have to deal with MICE requests. In my experience, General Managers are the ones which can green light the implementation of a new software, coordinating, understanding and synchronising different departments’ needs, but chances are that their vision is limited, due to too many things on their minds, too. And we’re back to the hotel in Austria: somebody picks the wrong software, the system makes the life of all (or, at least, some) employees miserable, there’s less time to focus on the guests (which is even worse than the previous issue, while, of course, unhappy employees are unlikely to make guests happy), and… Well, you see where I am going with this, don’t you? How PMSs Can Improve Operations and Guest Experience So, when picking a PMS, you should always be asking the one million dollar question: will this system make my life (and the life of my staff) easier so that they can make my guests happier? Knowing what to look for in a PMS can make a huge difference, so make sure that you understand what a property management system can (or can’t) do for you while trying to go into details during the process. Because if there’s anything we have learned over the past two decades, is that the devil is always hidden in details. Here are some of the areas where a good PMS can actually make a difference for both the hotel staff and guests: Reducing the workload during the check-in/out process. A publication by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research studied guests’ tolerance of delays during check-ins, and found that the “breaking point” for US guests is as short as five minutes. There’s an interesting discussion on Quora titled “What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?” Of course, the method is far from scientific, but it’s a fascinating read. According to the discussion, a best-case-scenario-check-in is at least 2-3 minutes. You know what that means? That if an American guest has two persons in front of him, he will likely leave a pesky review… Self check-in kiosks and apps can dramatically improve the check-in/out experience, yet most PMS do not support the technology; Remove friction during payments. It’s not uncommon to find hotels that still manage credit card payments manually. Usually, it goes like this: the back office department receives a booking, and they have to log in into the extranet, find the reservation, get the card, switch to another page for the CVC, get the physical terminal POS, type the total amount and the card details, wait for the transaction to go through. If this doesn’t look like a big deal for you, try to time your staff while they do it. I doubt it will take them less than five minutes per transaction. Now, let’s say you receive 25 reservations a day: that’s over two hours wasted just to charge credit cards. Not to mention what happens if the card does not work, you have to ask for a new one and start the process all over again. A PMS can solve the issue with payment automation proprietary features, or by integrating to third-party providers; Integrate invoicing systems. It may sound crazy in 2021, but I have seen too many hotels where the reception has to ask accountants to issue an invoice and, on the other side, too many accountants typing numbers manually from PMSs reports into their accounting systems… A simple integration will save hours of manpower every day; Connect your PMS to your SPA system. In most cases, if a hotel guest wants to book a treatment at the desk, the reception has to call the SPA, check availability and then book. Integrating the two systems will dramatically reduce workload, and guests will also be able to book and check availability directly online; Get smart in F&B. The adoption of QR codes and online ordering increased dramatically due to anti-COVID guidelines, and this is a prime example of a system that can dramatically reduce waiting times and improve guest experience. Customers are able to order (and pay) immediately on their phones. This reduces the waiting time (the waiter does not have to come and take your order or bring you the bill). Customers are in full control of the timing, and restaurants can allocate less staff to serve the same number of people, saving money. Moreover, thanks to Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), orders are not printed on paper but are shown digitally on a screen in the kitchen. KDS can also measure the average time needed to cook a meal, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction; Housekeeping digitalization. Another feature that COVID dramatically accelerated is the adoption of housekeeping apps, both built-in in the PMS or provided by third-party vendors. They reduce workload and make communication between departments easier. Hoteliers can also benchmark housekeeping staff timing to optimize operations and - particularly important for green hotels - drastically reduce the use of paper. According to a study, hotels use almost 2B A4 sheets per year in the United States only, meaning that 268,000 trees are chopped down annually only to fulfill the hotel industry's needs. It's the equivalent of 15 New York Central Park worth of trees cut every year! Automated emailing. Even though this is a feature we tend to associate with CRMs, some PMSs provide built-in functionality to communicate with guests pre/mid/post-stay, improving both the guest experience and increasing revenue coming from ancillary services proposed in the emails; Connect. Connect. Connect. It may sound crazy, but there are still a lot of hotels without a proper 2-way-integration between the PMS and the channel manager. It goes without saying that linking the two systems will dramatically reduce workload and bring human error down to virtually zero. Understand the Tradeoffs of New Technology to Maximize Impact Paul Virilio once stated: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution... Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress.” This is true for hotel tech as well, that is why implementing technology just for the sake of it it’s never a good idea. Choosing any software, and PMSs, in particular, requires a complete understanding of the property’s current (and future) needs. The risk with picking the wrong system is to end up like the Austrian hotel I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. At HotelTime Solutions, we provide tailored solutions and follow our customers during all the phases of the implementation, making sure that they can focus on what they do best: taking care of their guests.